Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
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In this insurance dispute, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment to Shelter Mutual Insurance Company on its declaratory judgment action, holding that Neb. Rev. Stat. 60-310 does not allow provisions known as partial household exclusion clauses. Larry Freudenburg was injured in an accident where he was the passenger in a car covered by a policy Freudenburg and his wife had purchased from Shelter. Shelter refused to pay Freudenburg's request for reimbursement of expenses in the amount of the policy limit for bodily injury based on a partial household exclusion clause in Freudenburg's policy. Partial household exclusion clauses reduce automobile liability coverage from the policy amount to the state minimum when the injured person is an insured, relative, or resident of the insured's household. The district court concluded that partial household exclusions are not prohibited by section 60-310. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that an automobile liability policy policy in any coverage amount is not permitted to exclude or reduce liability coverage under the policy on the ground that the claimant is a named insured or resident in the named insured's household. View "Shelter Mutual Insurance Co. v. Freudenburg" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court dismissing Plaintiff's petition alleging that she had sustained a severe and permanent brain injury as a result of an accident with a nail gun while she was at work for Builders Supply Company, Inc., holding that the compensation court did not err in concluding that Plaintiff had been willfully negligent. The workers' compensation court dismissed Plaintiff's petition upon finding that she intentionally shot herself in the head with the nail gun. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the compensation court (1) did not abuse its discretion in excluding the testimony of Plaintiff's expert witness as a discovery sanction; (2) did not abuse its discretion in declining to grant Plaintiff a second continuance; and (3) did not err in finding that Plaintiff acted with willful negligence. View "Eddy v. Builders Supply Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing as time barred this action brought under the State Tort Claims Act (STCA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-8,209 to 81-8,235, holding that the savings clause of Neb. Rev. Stat. 25-201.01 does not apply to an action under the STCA. It was undisputed that Plaintiff's lawsuit was filed outside the statute of limitations set forth in Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-8,227(1). At issue was whether Plaintiff could satisfy the requirements of the savings clause in section 25-201.01. The district court dismissed the action as time barred, finding that section 25-201.01 did not apply. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's STCA action was not timely commenced under the STCA and that the district court did not err in not applying the savings clause under section 25-201.01. View "Saylor v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Court awarding temporary total disability and attorney fees to Suzy Fentress, holding that the compensation court did not err. Fentress received a workplace injury while working for Westin, Inc. The compensation court entered an award in which Fentress received temporary partial workers' compensation benefits. Westin later moved to terminate the temporary indemnity benefits and to determine maximum medical improvement (MMI) and permanency. After the compensation court held an evidentiary hearing to determine MMI Westin moved to withdraw its motion to determine MMI. The compensation court disallowed the withdrawal of the motion and, thereafter, awarded temporary total disability and attorney fees to Fentress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the compensation court did not err when it (1) overruled Westin's motion to withdraw its motion to determine MMI; (2) admitted certain evidence during the hearing; (3) found that Fentress had achieved MMI with respect to mental health issues but not physical health issues; and (4) awarded Fentress medical treatment, temporary total disability, and attorney fees. View "Fentress v. Westin, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the Workers' Compensation Court ordering Jack's Supper Club and its workers' compensation carrier (collectively, JSC) to reimburse Sheryl Rogers for medical expenses she incurred, holding that where Rogers selected the physicians who provided the treatment at issue in disregard of provisions of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act, JSC was not responsible to reimburse Rogers. Rogers injured her back while working for JSC. The compensation court approved a lump-sum settlement, and JSC remained responsible to pay Rogers for reasonable and necessary medical care for her work-related injury. After Rogers received treatment she asked that the compensation court order JSC to reimburse her. The JSC argued that it was not responsible for the medical expenses because Rogers failed to comply with Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-120(2), a statute governing selection of treating physicians. The compensation court rejected the JSC's arguments and ordered JSC to pay certain bills offered by Rogers. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the compensation court erred in ordering JSC to reimburse Rogers for her treatment and by issuing a decision that did not comply with Workers' Comp. Ct. R. of Proc. 11. View "Rogers v. Jack's Supper Club" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting the City of Kimball's motion to dismiss Appellant's complaint alleging that the City was negligent for failing to supervised its employee, holding that the claim was barred by the intentional torts exception to the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act (PSTCA). Appellant filed a complaint against the City seeking damages incurred after its then-employee, David Ford, allegedly attacked and choked Appellant in a city building. Appellant alleged that the City was negligent for failing to protect her and the general public when the City knew or should have known of Ford's past violent behavior, violent propensities, and prior assaults. The district court dismissed the case, concluding that Appellant's allegations were exempt from application of the PSTCA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's negligence claim arose out of a battery and, therefore, was barred by the intentional torts exception to the PSTCA. View "Rutledge v. City of Kimball" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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In this action for negligence and premises liability the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of Defendant, holding that there was no evidence from which a reasonable finder of fact could infer that Plaintiff had established all the elements of his premises liability case. Peggy Williamson was injured when she fell on a curb outside the entrance to Bellevue Medical Center, LLC (BMC). There was no defect in the curb, and the curb did not violate any code or ordinance. Peggy brought this action, and after her death, the action was revived in the name of her husband, Jay Williamson (Plaintiff). The district court granted summary judgment for BMC, concluding that Plaintiff failed to produce evidence that the curb created an unreasonable danger. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that evidence existed supporting an inference that the unpainted, tapered curb posed an unreasonable risk of harm to lawful entrants, such as Peggy, who would fail to protect themselves against the danger. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that BMC carried its burden to show it was entitled to summary judgment. View "Williamson v. Bellevue Medical Center, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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In this negligence action brought by Plaintiff, the mother and special administrator of the estate of Chad Gesin, who committed suicide while in the Gage County jail, the Supreme Court affirmed the finding of the district court that Plaintiff's action was barred by sovereign immunity under Neb. Rev. Stat. 13-910(1), holding that the district court properly found that Plaintiff's claim was barred by section 13-910(1). Plaintiff brought this action against the County of Gage, Nebraska, the Gage County sheriff, and unknown Gage County sheriff's employees under the Nebraska Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 13-901 to 13-928, alleging that Defendants failed to follow the jail's established protocol and knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, that Gesin was suicidal. The district court concluded that Defendants had exercised due care and that Defendant's action was barred by sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err when it concluded that Plaintiff's claim for money damages was barred under section 13-910(1) and that Defendants were entitled to judgment in their favor. View "Reiber v. County of Gage" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Union Pacific Railroad Company on Plaintiff's complaint alleging that Union Pacific's negligence caused him to suffer emotional distress, holding that the district court did not err in disregarding Plaintiff's supplemental affidavit or in granting summary judgment to Union Pacific. Plaintiff sued Union Pacific under the Federal Employers' Liability Act alleging that, while providing aid to an injured fellow employee, he was exposed to the risk of being run over by a railcar, which caused him emotional distress. After Union Pacific moved for summary judgment Plaintiff submitted an affidavit in opposition to Union Pacific's motion. The district court disregarded the affidavit, finding that it was inconsistent with Plaintiff's deposition testimony. The court then entered summary judgment in favor of Union Pacific. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that (1) there was no merit to Plaintiff's arguments as to why the district court erred by disregarding his supplemental affidavit; and (2) summary judgment was proper because Plaintiff failed to present evidence from which a finder of fact could determine, without guesswork or speculation, that he was subjected to an immediate risk of physical harm. View "Kaiser v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the district court's entry of a judgment for the estates of Arlene L. Pantano and Anthony R. Pantano in the amount of $195,000 in this negligence case brought against American Blue Ribbon Holdings, LLC, holding that there was sufficient evidence that American Blue Ribbon was negligent but that the district court erred in instructing the jury with regard to comparative negligence. Arlene and her husband, Anthony, filed suit against American Blue Ribbon alleging damages for injuries and loss of consortium suffered when Arlene fell at a restaurant owned by American Blue Ribbon. Arlene subsequently died of natural causes, and Anthony died four months earlier. After a trial, the jury found for the estates in the total amount of $260,000 but found Arlene was twenty-five percent negligent. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) American Blue Ribbon's arguments on appeal were unavailing; but (2) the district court erred in instructing the jury on comparative negligence and including comparative negligence on the verdict form and in thus reducing the judgment in favor of the estates by twenty-five percent. View "Pantano v. American Blue Ribbon Holdings, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury